Selma Blair is a force of nature. The actress, best known for her performances in Legally Blonde, Cruel Intentions and The Sweetest Thing, shocked the world when she announced she had multiple sclerosis in 2018. For countless years, she had been living in excruciating pain, struggling to exist in a body that her mind couldn’t communicate with. She had no idea what was happening to her, but continued to push on despite finding it increasingly more challenging.
In her memoir, Mean Baby, the actress is now telling her own story in her own words. From her early age struggles with addiction to her obsession with winning her mother’s approval, her adoration of Reese Witherspoon and the unique joy and terror of bringing her son into the world, this is a must-read for anyone who is a fan of Blair, not only as an actress but as an ambassador for women’s health.
Below, just five of the many revelations you can expect to uncover in Mean Baby.
She had a complicated relationship with her parents
Much like many famous women (Jennifer Aniston and Emily Ratajkowski included), Blair’s relationship with her mother was fraught with complexities. While she loved her dearly, she was also on a never-ending mission to earn her approval – something which in time, she would come to find very exhausting. She adored her mother and despite her frequent criticism of the way she looked and behaved, was determined to impress her.
Blair revealed that she didn’t really have much time for her father, and was always considered to be ‘her mothers daughter.’ After her parents split, her father’s girlfriend actually sabotaged her from getting several major movie roles (including one for Charlie’s Angels) as she’d been writing death threats to Drew Barrymore, pretending to be Selma. Barrymore ended up hiring a private investigator to uncover the perpetrator, only to find out that it wasn’t Blair, but was in fact, her father’s girlfriend. This caused Blair to become so enraged that she didn’t speak to her father for 12 years, claiming their relationship never quite recovered. Don’t worry though, Blair and Barrymore have since met and smoothed everything over.
Later in life, the actress would become estranged from her dad, but would eventually seek reconciliation after the birth of her son.
She struggled with alcohol addiction from an early age
Blair got drunk for the very first time at just seven years old. From then on, she would steal alcohol from her parents liquor cabinet (even hiding a bottle of gin under her bed) and would take swigs from the bottle almost every day. While she wasn’t necessarily getting drunk every time, she would find herself reaching for it every time she felt anxious. Throughout middle school, particularly the third grade, she found that her addiction issues caused rifts between her friends, who became growingly concerned over her risk-taking behaviour. The more it drove people away, the more she wanted to drink to ease the pain.
After a particularly bad incident a few years later while in New York, Blair checked herself into rehab for her alcohol struggles. She actually ended up being there at the same time as a very famous female celebrity, but you’ll have to read the book to find out who it was.
She’s visited a lot of psychics for advice
Mean Baby starts with Blair visiting a tarot reader in Los Angeles. Throughout the book, we learn that she’s visited multiple psychics throughout her life, each of them telling her a different thing. Sometimes she was told to look out for someone with certain initials who would become very important. Another told her that she’d find herself incredibly ill and facing a horrible death.
She says that her fascination with people in this space (be it mystics, chakra healers or numerologists) has been a passion of hers since before she can remember. It seems that she often seeks out their advice when she’s feeling stuck or unsure of the world, in an attempt to redirect her life path.
By writing her book and telling her life story in her own words, the actress was able to regain that narrative and draw connections for herself. She said it was important for her to do this.
Her multiple sclerosis was first flagged at age 22
Early in the book, Blair discusses her struggles with a lazy eye. At the time, she was forced to wear an eyepatch for two years in an attempt to ‘trick her brain’ into strengthening her lazier eye. Once the eyepatch came off, she had perfect 20/20 vision, which lasted for approximately three days before she went back to being borderline blind in the lazy eye.
Further down the track when Blair was being treated for addiction issues, her doctor flagged that optical neuritis which is an inflammation of nerves in the eye. He told her that the condition was often a symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS), but three weeks later, her symptoms had subsided and the doctor believed he had been wrong with his initial diagnosis.
She didn’t think about the possibility of having MS again, until she was officially diagnosed in 2018. She told the world that same year and was met with an outpouring of support, despite her team advising her not to go public with the news. She says the diagnosis was somewhat of a relief. An explanation as to why she’d been feeling the way she had for all those years. Blair revealed that her mother had cried when she’d been diagnosed as an alcoholic, because there is a level of comfort in words. It’s a way for us to understand a situation which feels so hard to wrap your head around.
She was in a highly abusive relationship
Around the same time that her MS symptoms were worsening, she meets a man whom she only describes as ‘the Monster.’ He entered her life at a particularly vulnerable time when all her defences were down. She doesn’t speak about this man much, except to reveal that he became vicious and dangerous, going so far as to edit her Wikipedia page with outright lies. The police eventually traced the computer back to his home and she cut off all ties thereafter, but he had still caused significant damage to her psyche.
Later, she talks about how she met the father of her son, and how their relationship developed before she fell pregnant. The final part of the book explores her journey through motherhood and her relationship with the world around her, while navigating her changing body.
Mean Baby is available to purchase now from Booktopia.